The South African Minerals and Resources sector has experienced significant operational and logistical challenges in recent years. Managerial and other challenges such as crime and cable theft in the rail freight industry have forced mining companies to transport large quantities of freight on our roads.

South Africa has the 10th largest road network in the world and with mining activity mostly located inland, significant amounts of mining materials are transported to our coastal ports and harbours. Freight includes minerals, explosives, chemicals and various hazardous materials.

The Chemical and Allied Industries Association (CAIA) is at the forefront of guidance and awareness about the transportation of hazardous materials. Hazardous materials pose specific risks that make it essential for hauliers and logistics service providers to have management systems in place to identify and control these risks.

In 1994 CAIA launched the Responsible Care® Initiative in South Africa, the global chemical industry’s unique initiative to improve health, safety, security and environmental performance and to communicate with stakeholders about products and processes.

CAIA members voluntarily sign the Responsible Care® Declaration, pledging to conduct all operations, including the transportation of hazardous materials, in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner and to incorporate the Responsible Care® ethics and requirements into its business strategy, management system and daily operations.

Regulation, Responsibility and Liability for Environmental Damage

On the Arrive Alive Road Safety Website, we find a rather comprehensive section on the Transportation of Hazardous Materials and Dangerous Goods. This is focused on awareness about safety measures implemented to ensure the safe transport of these materials and include aspects on driver training, driver fitness, vehicle fitness etc.

It is however also important that the logistics industry be well aware of some of the risks and liability they may be confronted with if a road crash does occur when transporting hazardous materials. The risks are significantly more comprehensive than road deaths, injuries and financial loss.

There are a few very important laws and regulations to be aware of! The National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) and the Acts and Regulations that fall under it, such as the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (NEMWA), National Water Act (NWA), and National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (NEMAQA), draw from international best practices, aimed at ensuring an environment that is not harmful to health or wellbeing, and which is protected for the benefit of present and future generations.

Examples of legal risks, liability and punishment for damage caused to the environment would include:

  • Criminal liability: A person convicted of an offence in terms of NEMA could be liable to a fine of up to R10 million or to imprisonment of up to 10 years, or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
  • Cancellation of permits and an order for the forfeiture of items.
  • An order to take immediate remedial actions.
  • Directors, managers, agents and employees may face personal criminal liability
  • Civil liability to third parties – If the pollution causes damages to a third party, you may also be liable for their loss

Insurance to cover Environmental Liability

By law, all transporters of hazardous goods must be insured. These operators will be well aware of the need for Truck Insurance and Goods-In-Transit Insurance but might be less aware of the importance and value of Environmental Liability Insurance

Environmental liability insurance protects the insured freight transporters from having to bear all of the costs of remediation and cleaning up pollution, and the damages flowing from environmental and health damage caused by pollution.

Insurance premiums paid serve as the internalisation of external costs and ensure that the liability for the clean-up costs is not borne by the state or innocent third parties affected by the pollution.

Insurance cover mitigates the risk of civil liability, and statutorily imposed responsibility and the consequent costs of complying with same, which may be faced by insureds who do not have the funds available to carry out extensive clean-up operations both quickly and effectively.


Trucking and logistical operators are advised to take all the necessary precautions to ensure the safe transportation of hazardous materials. This will include comprehensive safety assessments and panning to ensure continued driver training, vehicle safety checks, management of driver fitness, route assessments etc. Despite all the best intentions and strategies road crashes may still occur. It is only prudent to investigate financial products and insure against this unfortunate eventuality!

[In April 2022 it was announced  –  MiWay launches Environmental Transport Liability product]

Also view:

Environmental Liability Insurance and Business Insurance

Safe Transport of Hazardous and Dangerous Goods

Construction And Environmental Liability Insurance